If Shiragirl were a girl and not a band, she’d be that girl you love to hate. She’s pretty, popular, all the boys and girls want her, and everything she wants, she gets–not only because of the afore mentioned attributes, but because she’s (goddamn her!) smart and fierce. How fierce? Rocking an awesome outfit fierce? Duh, of course. But no, I’m talking fierce like crashing Warped Tour ‘04 in a pink RV fierce. Opening for Rancid fierce. Hanging out with Joan Jett fierce.
But hang on, Shiragirl is that girl. Or rather, front woman Shira Yevins is that girl–only add, “knows how to pick a kickass drummer for her band, fierce” to that list, which is, of course, where I’m going with all this lead up. I’m stoked to find out more about this band through the eyes of drummer Raine Palladino–and, of course, about the girl herself.
Full name: Raine Palladino
Nickname: Rainey P
Where were you born: Westchester New York
Where do you live now: Brooklyn New York
Musical instrument?: Drums, guitar
Day job: freelance website design/development
Tom Tom Magazine: There’s not much about you on the Shiragirl biography I received, only that “prodigy drummer Raine Palladino is leading the all-female band as musical director”. What does that mean exactly? Are you writing all the songs, and what’s your story with joining Shiragirl?
Raine Palladino: I do majority of the songwriting, yes. My story with joining SG is – I was playing drums in a band that was friends with Shira and played her all-girl stage on Warped Tour. Shira’s band completely abandoned her like a bunch of sissies so she asked me to fill in for a gig she had opening for Rancid. RANCID?! Are you kidding me? I’ll take ‘one of my all time punk rock idols’ for 200! She really had to twist my arm for that one, haha. Anyway I was working intensely with producer, Tim Gilles at Big Blue Meanie Studio in Jersey City. He had me coming in everyday to practice drums and was teaching me all sorts of chops and fills and drills and paradiddles and…and…he made me what I am today. I had Shira and her fill in musicians come to Big Blue to rehearse and I pretty much fell in love with her when she said “no one leaves until we get it right.” We opened for Rancid… Well, I had seen enough.. Shira was talented, hard working, ambitious, and I wouldn’t let a bunch of quitters rip her dreams to shreds. I took her under my wing and redirected her music. I wrote Reklys, Rolls with the Crew and Anthem and we put together a demo.. Shira spent months in Big Blue Meanie with my band as we rehearsed to a metronome and polished our skills as musicians. She did her research on what goes into making a professional musician. Time, energy, sweat, skills, dedication, determination, and practice, practice, practice! Together we grew as artists and re-assembled her band, Palladino style.
Tom Tom Magazine: So, just making sure I’ve got this right. Shira’s band completely abandoned her one year at the Warped Tour, and she brought in all new musicians to Big Blue Meanie Studio? Was the former band called Shiragirl?
RP: Shira was always called Shiragirl since she started writing songs and spoken word in college. Her act was always Shiragirl before any of us. And yes, the little weaklings quit on her. Hey, make room…Only the strong survive. Who ever said this was supposed to be fun lied to you. This is a challenge.
TTM: What was the music like before, just so readers can get some perspective on how you all grew as a band under your direction?
RP: What was Shiragirl’s music like in the Before Raine Era….. well it was a lot more electro, and didn’t have the live sound. There was no live drums. She had a lot to say and it was very passionate, and riot-grrrl inspired. Her singing-style was very basic-rhyming. It was more of a message and a movement than an actual musical ensemble. Music pumps through my heart and bleeds through my veins, but I could never quite find the right words. With her passionate message and my passionate playing, it was really an explosive chemical reaction when we collaborated (and still is).
TTM: Are you comfortable being behind the scenes, so to speak, at least from a marketing standpoint? Not being “the face” of the band? I thought of this question while watching the Sick Day video. You had a few brief cameos playing drums, but I was straining to see you play. I know Shira is the front girl and that’s how it goes, but do you feel like the whole band is a super cohesive, well-represented group in other ways beyond the marketing…on stage, writing music, supporting each other’s roles in the band?
RP: Yes I am comfortable being behind the scenes – behind the scenes is where I belong. We are trying to market Shiragirl as kind of more of an artist rather than a band. Call me crazy but I feel the rock band is an endangered species. Its a lot easier for an audience to indulge in an artist as a person. Its more easily digestible. I want to see Shira succeed. Like Gwen Stefani. I’m not greedy about the spot light. We don’t have to be a “band” all in the posters, on stickers, on the album cover. All that does is go to people’s heads. I’m the guy behind the scenes. And when Shira makes it, I make it as her drummer, song writer, musical director and co-producer of all her albums. I’m perfectly fine being known and
respected for my talent. She’s the face of the band. I’ll have it no other way. Same goes for the rest of the band. I tell them we are Shira’s band. Like how Pink has a really cool band. Or how Beyonce has a kick-ass all girl band. We should consider ourselves lucky to be a part of it. Not hungry for the spot light. (besides have you SEEN how hot shira is? 😉
TTM: Yes I have! Like I said, love to hate! Haha, but Shira seems pretty easy to love too. She referred me to you after all, and seems like a super cool girl. But let’s talk about cool girl Joan Jett, because she’s such an inspiration and idol for many women. What was she like to tour and hang with?
RP: The touring was the Before Raine era. But we’ve hung out with Joanie since then and she is very proud of Shira. We were hangin backstage and Joan was telling Carmen Electra once how awesome Shira is and about all the things Shira’s done with her stage and Warped Tour. Its really inspiring to see a legend like Joan Jett looking up to Shira.
TTM: Shiragirl also has a strong relationship with your fave, Tim Armstrong of Rancid. Can you explain his influence/support on you and/or the band in general?
RP: Oh yea! Tims my man! He has inspired me a lot growing up listening to punk from Op Ivy to Rancid. I love his style of writing and vocal delivery. Lars is also rad as shit. Those guys are crazy-cool and really supportive of Shira as an artist. We opened for them again in 08 and killed it! I’m sure we will be playing shows with Rancid again on their next tour. I really look forward to it. Its high speed…
TTM: Is it exhausting, touring with so many ladies in one RV? Do you all get on the same cycle? Any Shiragirl boy-groupies and crazy stories to share?
RP: Hahaha! No you didn’t… the girls get on the same cycle, yes. First Mar (bass) then Josette (guitar) then Shira. I’m kind of in left field with that. As for how many bitches can you fit in an RV… the more the merrier! Never too many chicks… Boy-groupies? Eh… they’re pretty intimidated by us.. you more have to worry about the skeevy old man groupies but even they don’t get too crazy. We stick together as a pack. Crazy stories… hmm…many many crazy stories.. none really about the opposite sex. Like I said, males are pretty intimidated by us.
TTM: Mind sharing one of those non-dude crazy stories?
RP: Hahaha! Yes! Sex drugs and rock n roll… you know the deal…
TTM: Why the drums, in particular?
RP: My mom’s Sicilian and you know what Italy says about them Sicilians…she got the rhythm! I inherited it. We grew up listening to soul, motown and R and B. I was always very rhythmically drawn to music. But I play guitar too, so… can’t write songs without an acoustic.
TTM: As a drummer, who are your biggest influences or mentors, other than the ones you mentioned earlier, Tim Gilles and Tim Armstrong? Haha, you love them Tims!
RP: I guess lets start from the beginning… I started playing drums when I was 10. My mother is a feminist and never told us we couldn’t do something because “its for boys.” She sent me to lessons as a little girl and I was in the school band banging away with the rest of the boys. The Green Day album Dookie had just come out and I really liked the drumming! Tré Cool was one of my first inspirations followed closely by Carter Beauford of Dave Matthews Band. Ants Marching? What?! Skills, daughta, skills! That man probably still holds the title to this day as my all time revered drummer. Then Travis Barker came out stealing the spotlight with his bobbing head and long ass neck. I mean he’s cool… but it got old kinda quick. My favorite Blink album is Dude Ranch and that wasn’t even Travis, so… I just like that he was the first real “super-star” drummer of my generation, growing up. Thats kinda cool. Then… THEN I was turned onto a little band called As I Lay Dying… duuuude… Jordan Mancino? My hero… I’d probably have to say Carter Beauford and Jordan Mancino are my 2 top drummers.
TTM: Favorite all girl bands?
RP: Why, Shiragirl of course! Haha.. Hole? Not quite all-girl, but almost.
TTM: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not drumming?
RP: I’m kind of a nerd. I do XHTML and CSS, website coding. I’m on photoshop a lot doing graphics for the band and for my clients. I maintain shiragirl.com so I’m always trying to improve it with new features. I also do all the video editing for shiragirl. I’m trying to finish more episodes of “the road” an online documentary about life on the road with shiragirl.
Lets see what else do I do… I cook, clean, do laundry, build stuff, I have a lot of scrap wood in the house I just made a pretty sweet TV stand.. lets see what else am I awesome at.. haha I try to read some virginia woolf when I really have some down time, which is rare. I like Simpsons and Desperate Housewives.
TTM: Speaking of Virginia Woolf…who was, er, known for her huge knockers (?!!), you played Hooters in Vegas??!! That’s half awesome and half…confusing. How do you feel about the whole corporate sponsorship thing, fake boobs, and Vegas, and punk rock’s place in all that?
RP: Hooters! Why is it confusing, that’s where we were booked who am I to argue? Hooters is feminist, if anything. Exploit the male pig and make as much money as you can from it. You go girl! Those girls are great, they were even having a drive for breast cancer. Is it more repressive for a woman to get top surgery than it is for her to love her boobies?… I’m a size D. Boobie Power! We are women, we have breasts and we can still be strong and tough and play drums. Love thy body. As for corporate sponsorship, the show was sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon, which is about as punk rock as it gets! They support local music and art, which is really cool.
TTM: You’ve got some greats points! Um, no awful pun intented. Err…moving on to more girlie stuff…favorite sleepover game: Twister or Girl Talk?
RP: I’ve never heard of Girl Talk.. I like truth or dare.
TTM: Most embarrassing truth told or dare dared?
RP: One time someone dared my girl to titty slap me in the face…and I thought it would be fine I was like psh whatever…but it was actually kind of embarassing. I think I blushed.
TTM: Shiragirl gets stranded on Dinosaur Island with no hope of rescue; your instruments have all been eaten by dinosaurs, and you can’t even make new ones out of trees and rocks because music kicks the dinos out of their typically docile vegan state and makes them rabid, super-strong, voraciously hungry carnivores. What are you going to do for the rest of your life?
RP: Simple… kill the dinosaurs and go back to making music!
TTM: Damn, I made that one too easy! You could just poison their vegan donuts. Okay, last grrrl power takeaway! Other than the ingredients for success mentioned earlier: time, energy, sweat, skills, dedication, determination, and practice, practice, practice, what’s one more drummer-specific necessity for getting a drummer-girl going places?
RP: RESIST OPPRESSION!!! They’re not used to seeing women, females, femmes, butches, bois, girls, whatever. If you pee sitting down they don’t take you seriously… Maybe not by everyone, but overall it’s just like playing a sport. It’s like trying to get the guys to pass you the ball when you’re the only girl on the court. You have to push harder, run raster, and snuff the ball out of their hands, put the smack down to gain respect as a player. We have to work 10x harder just to get the same amount of respect guys do. Its messed up but hopefully if enough of us have the confidence we may start moving some mountains.
TTM: Well said. Thanks Raine!
Check out Raine and Shiragirl over at www.shiragirl.com
Exclusive Tom Tom Magazine Interview by Leslie Henkel
Photos courtesy of Shiragirl